Korean city taps N.J. for biotech cluster

//October 27, 2009//

Korean city taps N.J. for biotech cluster

//October 27, 2009//

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Officials to launch $100M seed fund for investment at event Wednesday.In its quest to rival Kobe and Shanghai as a hub for medical technology, the Korean city of Daegu has picked New Jersey as its first partner for a proposed biotechnology cluster.

State officials and Daegu Mayor Bum Il Kim will formally launch their partnership and a $100 million seed fund for biotechnology investing on Wednesday at Rutgers University’s Busch campus, in Piscataway.

Bio 1, a bioscience partnership between five Central New Jersey counties along Route 1 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset) is organizing the event as part of the annual New Jersey Life Sciences Week, taking place from Oct. 20 to 28.

Bio 1’s other partners in the effort include Bio NJ, the Trenton-based state biotechnology association; Rutgers; and the Central New Jersey WIRED, or Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development program; among others.

Some of the money from the Daegu seed fund could conceivably get invested in New Jersey-based biotechs, said David Finegold, dean of the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations and the founder and chairman of Bio 1.

“The hope is to have two clusters that will be mutually reinforcing — one here and one in Korea,” Finegold said. Rutgers is working on plans to offer a master’s degree of business and science that the biotech firms in Korea and New Jersey could tap, he said.

The South Korean government recently selected Daegu from among 14 contenders in a national contest to build a $5.6 billion high-tech medical complex, which aims to provide world-class drug development, medical devices technology and clinical trials, according to a presentation by Daegu.

“New Jersey has the momentum, and is the heart of the world’s pharmaceutical industry,” said Hahn-Jun Lee, ambassador to Daegu’s high-tech medical complex. Lee is co-president of Focus Therapeutics, a technology transfer consulting firm in Fort Lee, and is helping forge New Jersey’s partnership with Daegu. He is also helping arrange visits by the Korean delegation to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the state.

The Daegu partnership is the latest among several global partnerships Bio NJ has worked on in recent months. “We believe that many opportunities will emerge internationally for New Jersey’s biotechnology firms, and that’s why we have focused on it,” said Debbie Hart, president of Bio NJ. Nearly a dozen Bio NJ member firms have shown an interest in meeting with the Daegu delegation, she said.

E-mail Shankar P. at [email protected]